Last month my favorite singer/songwriter, Sara Groves, released a new album, Invisible Empires. As I’ve done with every other one of her albums I pushed play, repeat, and listened to just her album for days. Soon songs and lines of lyrics soak into my mind and my soul and I mull over their meanings and how they relate to me. This isn’t unusual for me. Music moves me and I hum the tunes while meditating on cleverly crafted lines. As is the case with her songs I find myself being pushed and pulled spiritually. This album is no different and while I love the whole album there is one song that resonates with me right now more than any other, Open My Hands, written by Sara and Alli Rogers.
The song’s second verse has this to say;
I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain
That broken find healing in love
Pain is no measure of his faithfulness
He withholds no good thing from us
No good thing from us, no good thing from us
And once again I find myself being confused by what I know to be true and what my reality seems to be saying. That the words of my mouth and the confession of my faith while staying true to Biblical orthodoxy aren’t actually matching up with the life I’m currently living.
See, it all centers around one line of the song, He withholds no good thing from us. It is actually quite easy to say this and believe it. After all it is true. Scripture tells us “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11 ESV) And didn’t Jesus himself tell us in the Sermon on the Mount that all things will be added or given to those who search for His kingdom first? There are other verses as well that reiterate God provision for us and as followers of Christ we hold these to be true.
So what is my issue then? Well, everything changes for me when I turn the phrase around and then look at it from how I have been living my life. If I say that I believe that God withholds no good thing from me, then isn’t the reverse also true? That my wants and desires that aren’t given to me is because God has purposed that they are not good for me, at least not good for me right now. See how that turns everything on it’s head? This hits home in many ways, but specifically with the recent diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis that my wife received. Who doesn’t desire for their spouse to be healthy? Yet here we are learning how to deal with not only her fibromylagia, but now we are learning to live with RA as well. So when I confess with my mouth that God withholds no good thing and still live with a heart that is upset that God has not given me a healthy wife, my worlds of theology and reality collide.
The desires of our hearts are often good things. Health for family members, a spouse that shares your love for God, a better job, or maybe just a friend to help you with your loneliness. All of these are good things. Good desires that God often gives to His children. But how do we respond when He doesn’t give us the good desires of our hearts? It takes a far greater measure of faith to accept that when God does not give us what we desire it is because He has determined that it is not good for us. But wait! So my good desires of having a healthy wife are actually not a good thing for me right now? Yes, I actually believe that is what the Bible teaches. It’s just taken a while for me to wrap my head around it all and I am still working it out daily.
Everything I have comes from God. In the book of James we see that “every good gift and every perfect gift” comes from God. So when I hold that verse up in contrast to my wife’s health the only conclusion I can reach is that her RA is a perfect and good gift that God has given to us right now. That my good desire of having a healthy wife is actually a bad thing for me. If it was a good thing for me wouldn’t my Father give it to me? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 ESV) So sometimes when we ask for things or have good desires, we find that God in His sovereignty deems that what is best for us is in fact the opposite of our wants. To wait on Him and realize that what He has purposed for us, which at first may appear to be a stone in our hands, is actually a loaf of bread.
The chorus of the song goes like this;
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I will open my hands, will open my heart
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes
To all that You have for me
So here I am Lord with open hands receiving the good gifts that you have given to me. Praying that where some might see what You have given as being a serpent or a trial in my life is in fact a perfect precious gift. You withhold no good thing and so I emphatically say yes and open my hands and heart to everything You give to me.